Thanks to Sherri and Jenn from Reader-land, I would be remiss if I didn’t include Phil Lawlers take on this situation. His article, Is the Pope a heretic? The danger of asking the wrong question, is worth reading for a rational, well-educated take.
But I disagree, so I have to explain.
Ok, first, I don’t know Phil or anything about him, and I want to emphasize that in this situation, he has the wisdom and prudence from education and experience that give a much better insight than I have. He’s most likely correct, even. But I am young, hot-blooded and idealistic, and I disagree with him.
How does one argue with someone smarter than you, you ask? Well, I will break down my assessment. Phil comes to the conclusion that the letter does not convince that Pope Francis is a heretic, and doesn’t explain why. Now, for me, the letter is asking the bishops to come to this conclusion, and in a legal sense they have evidence and the legal framework cited as to why a statement or something can be heretical. They make a good case on several, if not all the cases, and in front of a grand jury, this would probably be enough to investigate further. I’m not a lawyer, but I have testified to a grand jury.
Secondly, and to me the most important thing here, is that it seems Phil and Arroyo and probably many others are saying that it was the wrong way to do it, that it shouldn’t have been public, that if the Vatican didn’t respond to the Dubia they won’t respond to this, that this will give ammunition to the people who think Francis critics are extremists, and that they should have approached sympathetic bishops in private. He’s right on all counts if this were political. But it isn’t and here’s my beef.
This is about Truth. This isn’t about laying low and doing things behind closed doors because people are losing their faith. This is eternal salvation or damnation we are talking about, not if Clinton was going to raise taxes or repeal religious freedoms. This is eternity, and every soul that is lost because they were misled by confusing teaching, (which Phil highlights at the beginning of his article), every soul that is lost because we the church, the body of Christ, didn’t speak up, we will have to answer for them! We ARE our brother’s keeper, and if we stay silent in the face of evil we will answer for that evil!
The great Saints of the church, did they sit quietly by? St Francis went to Rome and the pope had dreams of this little friar saving the church. St Peter Damian wrote a book to the pope about the evil sexual relationships that were happening in the clergy. Little St Catherine, a third order Dominican, yelled at popes and urged them to resign if they would not use their authority. Aquinas railed in front of kings. St Terese wanted to go and evangelize the world. St Francis Xavier went to Asia and suffered persecution and leprosy to convert his flock. St Isaac Jogues. St Edmund Campion wrote a letter to the queen saying she was wrong! St Theresa of Calcutta went in front of the Nobel audience and spoke out against abortion, and did it again in front of President Clinton when he was in office. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati witnessed his faith in fascist Italy to his family and friends, inviting them to holy hours and mass. St Thomas More stood up to a king who was in heresy. Do you want me to go on? Because there are two thousand years of examples of Holy men and women giving open testimony to the Truth, and suffering all the consequences.
This is the danger of trying to work behind the scenes when it comes to the faith. It’s not a bipartisan issue that can be worked out across the aisle in a closed-door meeting. The Truth is a light, and we can’t put it under a bushel basket. Does that mean we may be ridiculed and ostracized? Heck yes! But every one of us is required to give witness according to our state in life. For me, my family, my work, and this blog means I have a duty to say something. For these scholars who wrote the accusation, that is their duty too. Was it frustration, maybe. Maybe they also prayed about it and concluded that it was their duty to witness. Many of us who don’t have a public platform give witness in prayer, as we all should, and daily living.
Thirdly, and finally on the Phil stuff, is that schism will happen. To try to keep the church whole at the expense of clear Truth, well that can’t happen. If that were so, there wouldn’t be an Orthodox church in schism. The reformation, there wouldn’t have been a need for Luther or Calvin or Henry viii I am I am, and much fewer martyrs. Therefore, it behooves us as Catholic Christians to openly give witness to the Truth. And that might mean division!!!
So, most importantly, I don’t know if Francis is a heretic. That is not my place to ascertain or determine. However, there has been great confusion with his writings and sayings and the faithful need to be able to know clear doctrine. We have to know our faith so that we are able to get through this confusion! And we need to also hold our bishops accountable.
I support this effort so that a clear line can be drawn to begin clarifying the confusion, the corruption, and the heresy that is going around. Fr James Martin SJ, talking about you! Fr Fessio gives a very good explanation from St Ignatius, about giving the best interpretation of the words a person uses, both for Pope Francis and these scholars.
Ok, this is the last post I have unless someone in Reader-land requests more. I’ll answer comments. And someone please tell Phil that I like him, I just disagree!